Michelle & Chris' relaxed vineyard wedding

By on Jul. 18th
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Photos by Alison George

The offbeat bride: Michelle, Solution Designer

Her offbeat partner: Chris, Primary School Teacher

Date and location of wedding: Hanging Tree Vineyards, Hunter Valley, Australia — September 17, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: My favourite touch for our wedding was reversing the colours of the bridal party dresses. When I was five, I used to make my grandmother angry by telling her I would get married in a red dress and when the time came, it just felt right. I wore an amazing 1950s-style floor length red gown, and my bridesladies and my bridesman wore white.

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I'm more than slightly addicted to crafting, so I undertook a rather massive decoration project involving 3D hearts in three colours which had a variety of little facts about Chris and I hand-written on them. My favourite two are: "Chris and Michelle should NOT play Pictionary together" and "Chris drove Michelle to work every day for a year, even when his shift finished at midnight." I also made a papier-mache pig for the cards, little Reese's Pieces with stickers as favours, and little memorials for my grandparents who are no longer with us.

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Our wedding venue was our favourite vineyard (Hanging Tree Vineyards) from the wine tour we did on our first holiday together. We had a wedding cake in the shape of a wine barrel. It had four layers alternating between peppermint mud and Belgian chocolate mud cake, as we're both equally bad chocoholics (Chris just won't admit it).

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Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge for our wedding turned out to be my health. About a month before our wedding, I found out I had bowel cancer. I was really lucky with the timing as it was still small and hadn't spread.

Unfortunately, I was a little too rowdy at my hen's night the following weekend after my surgery, and I ended up hospitalised for three nights two weeks before the wedding! It wasn't the greatest time, but I was lucky nothing worse happened.

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My favorite moment: I made it through my vows without crying which was totally surprising. Chris and I wrote our vows together as he's an amazing public speaker and I'm terrified of it. Every time I practiced with him I broke up halfway through, but I wasn't even close to tears during the ceremony. The photo with the fist pump is my mid-ceremony celebration of the fact I didn't cry in my vows.

The other thing that was really special for me was my dad's ceremony reading. I asked him to read an edited excerpt from one of my all-time favourite books he used to read to me as a kid: Dr Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go."

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: First, be clear on what you want. A friend of ours getting married soon has a great technique for minimising a too large focus: the "wedding filter." They chose three words that describe the wedding they want to create, and use this as a filter when deciding on anything to do with the wedding.

I would also recommend sitting down together as early in the planning process as possible and prioritising the things that are important to you. This was super important to us as we're definitely an "opposites attract"-type couple. We found that I was prepared to be stingy on the food while he wasn't, and I wanted to spend on crafty projects and Chris wasn't so into that. We really needed to hammer out the areas that were important to both of us where we would spend resources, and what we were happy to go without or do for cheap.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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